World / Politics

Trump orders Washington parade to showcase U.S. military muscle

by Jesse Johnson

Staff Writer

U.S. President Donald Trump has asked for a large-scale military parade in Washington to showcase American power and highlight his role as commander-in-chief, the White House and Pentagon confirmed Tuesday.

Trump, who has previously spoken of holding a massive military parade in the U.S. capital since before being sworn in, has made the request to White House and Pentagon officials, who are working on the event’s planning.

The parade was first reported by The Washington Post.

Asked about the report, a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed its veracity to The Japan Times.

“We are aware of the request and are in the process of determining specific details,” the spokesperson said. “We will share more information throughout the planning process.”

Speaking later, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that Trump had asked the Defense Department to look into parade options.

“President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe. He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation,” Sanders said.

The news, which came a day before North Korea was expected to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of its military with its own massive parade, immediately fueled comparisons to similar events in more autocratic countries.

“I was stunned by it, to be quite honest. … We have a Napoleon in the making here,” Rep. Jackie Speier told CNN. Speier, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, called the planned parade a “waste of money.”

Adam Mount, a North Korea expert and senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, said any parade would be “a pointless display that will impede the Pentagon’s efforts to improve force readiness.”

“You expect to see that kind of spectacle in Pyongyang, not in Washington,” he added.

The idea apparently first crystallized when Trump visited Paris in July for Bastille Day and was a witness to the pomp and ceremony of that occasion. Watching from the Champs-Elysees, the U.S. leader was in visible awe at the Republican Guard on horseback and fighter jets flying overhead, as he greeted President Emmanuel Macron, who arrived in an open-topped military jeep.

Months earlier, media reports said that Trump had considered a military parade to mark his inauguration, but that idea was eventually scrapped.

The Post reported that the parade could be held on Pennsylvania Avenue, which links the Capitol and the White House. It said Trump officials had discussed holding it on Memorial Day on May 28, and July 4, but said the Pentagon prefers Veterans Day on Nov. 11 — in part because it would coincide with 100th anniversary of World War I’s end, making it less associated with the president and politics. “That’s what everyone is hoping,” The Post quoted an unnamed military official as saying.

Muscular displays of American military firepower are uncommon in the United States, though service members commonly participate in parades on the Fourth of July and other holidays to mark appreciation and remembrance of veterans. These typically do not include gaudy displays of military hardware reminiscent of Soviet, Chinese and North Korean parades.

Pyongyang is known to train its troops for weeks for shows of force on its key anniversaries, where it has in recent years shown off new ballistic missiles and other equipment.